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Road Trip 2021 – Part 2

THE ROAD TRIP CONTINUES!

Arizona Prices!!!
CA Prices!!!

Well as all trips do, we had a hitch in the get along before leaving Newport Dunes. We sprung a leak in the plumbing around the hot water heater. It has proven to be very difficult to fix. I gave it a solid try before we left, but no bueno. We had a great drive up to Fort Mohave, Az. Took about 5ish hours on the bumpiest interstate yet! We definitely noticed the price of fuel dramatically drop when we crossed over into AZ from California! We arrived and were greeted with hugs and kisses from our friends Jeff and Jaime Simon and Mike and Cathy Richards. We haven’t seen any of these guys since last year (breakout of Covid-19) in Mexico. The guys put the trailer away (worked on the plumbing issue to no avail) and the drinks were flowing. We ordered pizza and spent the evening around the little gas fire in the driveway. The next day was mostly spent on buying parts and tools and calling around to find a mobile RV mechanic. Well despite calling multiple people…. that was a big fail, Mike and Cathy went house hunting and Jeff and I tried everything to fix the leak. After hours of working on it, we thought we had someone lined up to come out. Nope…. We decided to throw in the towel and go to Cocktails to have cocktails. Then on to a steakhouse for a yummy dinner. The next day was boating day! We headed out about noon (after another trip to Lowe’s). We put in the Colorado River and headed to Lake Havasu. Jeff and Jaime have an awesome boat and the sun was out! It was a beautiful day, just a little bit windy. The lake was rough as we crossed but so glad we went. We saw the London Bridge and stopped on a little beach for a light lunch. Debbie friended some ducks that hung around for treats. We stopped on our way back for a bit and had snacks and drinks on the lake. We decided it was time to head back and it seemed the lake was a bit rougher in the way back. But our skilled captain got us across safe and sound! It was such a great day! Thank you Jeff Simon and Jaime for your hospitality, we are so grateful to get to spend time with you. And thanks to Mike and Cathy Richards for driving up and making time to see us, we enjoyed spending time with you two also. We are now limping along with no hot water for now, showering in the RV Park showers and boiling water for dishes. We have a mechanic scheduled to meet up with us in Alamogordo. We headed out Thursday morning (after half expecting the repair guy to come by early that morning… nope) for Prescott Arizona.


After a great visit in Fort Mohave we headed out for Prescott Arizona. We had visited Prescott several years ago while doing research on places we wanted to consider for retirement. We loved it then, but we chose to stay in Washington. Still love it, such a beautiful place with such a cool vibe. We stayed at a nice RV Park (Point of Rocks)with lots of trees and big beautiful rocks all around. We did some shopping in the many shops on Whiskey Row and found some cool earrings for me. They ended up being my birthday present. We had dinner and drinks at The Palace Saloon which claims to be the oldest bar in Arizona. All of the staff wear period clothing also! We stayed only two nights in Prescott then off we went to Goodyear AZ to see our friends Tori and Kevin Hillstrom and Keith and Laurie Helker. We have known these people for many years and we all met each other in local Packer bars in the Seattle area. Just a few hours of driving and we arrived at Destiny RV in Goodyear which was just 15 min from where our friends live. The RV park was nice (each site has a citrus tree complete with oranges or lemons) with a surprisingly well outfitted gym! We spent the first afternoon getting set up and checking out the amenities. Our friends threw an amazing pool party at their beautiful home in our honor that night. We met some new people and really loved seeing some old friends we hadn’t seen in a while. We are so grateful to be able to spend time with everyone! We started the next day with doing laundry (yuck, but you gotta do the dull stuff every now and then too) and getting a great workout in! We met Tori and Kevin for dinner at a great restaurant (The Red Dog) right on the golf course. Then back to their house for a cocktail or two. Our stay was short, but we enjoyed every minute of catching up with friends and are so grateful for the time they spent with us. We packed up and left Arizona the next morning heading for New Mexico.


After such a short , but wonderful visit with friends, we left Goodyear Arizona a little later than planned (the RV office didn’t open until 9:00! Grrr… we had to wait to get a “key” refund, so dumb) to get on the road to New Mexico. We had a longer drive, nearly 7 hours, to get to Alamogordo. Boy, the drive felt so long and the landscape was ever changing! We had to wrangle with strong winds at times, I even caught some pictures of sizable dust devils along the way. We were so anxious to get to Alamogordo as this leg of the trip was all about family. I grew up in Alamogordo and some very special family still lives there. We haven’t been back for over 5 years and I was definitely feeling the pull of my heart strings as we crossed the border into NM. We drove through Las Cruces which is a beautiful city and then just over an hour to the RV Park. We stayed at the KOA, which was awesome. Super friendly staff, locally owned and very nice spaces. We got set up fairly late and had to take care of chores but made plans for breakfast at my Aunt Sharon and Uncle Butch’s house. We spent the day hanging out with them, reminiscing, driving around and catching up. We were joined by my cousin Lori when she got off work at her pool supply store. We could have talked all night, and almost did. The next day, my other cousin Laura, who recently moved back to Alamogordo, was so gracious to host a Cinco de Mayo dinner at her beautiful home. It was so special spending time with her and it was so important to reconnect as she recently and unexpectedly lost her husband. While our time was short in Alamogordo, it was full of love and tons of belly laughs! Debbie now knows where I get my sense of humor. Aunt Sharon and Uncle Butch stopped by the next morning to say goodbye with lots of hugs! We were sad to say goodbye so soon, but plan to come back sooner than later. We headed off for a much shorter drive up to Santa Fe. The drive to Santa Fe was beautiful as the high desert emerged with vibrant colors and commanding views. We checked into the RV Park which was the perfect location for buzzing around town. We loved Santa Fe! We had been there just for the day several years ago so we enjoyed having a few days to really explore. Due to COVID restrictions, some of the sights were closed or limited but we still had a great time. We shopped, went wine tasting and at the recommendation of some people we met had the BEST dinner at Tomasitas. Three days seemed to fly by! Next stop Colorado!!

See pictures of Santa Fe
and family pictures here!


Colorado! We departed from Santa Fe for the relatively short drive to Durango Colorado (4ish hours). The drive to Colorado was full of beautiful landscapes as the desert gave way to the more typical mountains of Colorado. We arrived at the Oasis RV Park and were thinking about our plans for the next few days. We had planned to stay 4 days to get in the sights we were absolutely wanting to see. As we were setting up in our site, we decided we really needed to stay 5 days to fit it all in. So we extended our stay, ordered dinner ( the RV Park offered handmade pizza delivered to our site!) and settled in with a couple of cocktails. We highly recommend Oasis RV Park of you’re ever in the Durango area. We had an early call to catch the train to Silverton the next morning and we’re delighted to find out the RV Park also offered made to order breakfast and coffee! We took advantage of breakfast and off we went to catch the train in old town Durango. The train was awesome, with sights you just can’t see any other way. The trip is somewhat shorter (4 hours round trip) in the spring with the terminus at Cascade versus Silverton due to snow still present in the mountains. We had lunch at the terminus before heading back to Durango. It was a gorgeous day and we decided to drive up to Silverton on our own to check it out. Silverton is an old silver mining town where it feels like time has stood still. It is quite a climb to get there where it’s nestled in the mountains at over 9,000 feet. The drive there and back was breathtaking! We headed back to old town Durango for a dinner out to celebrate Mother’s Day. It was fabulous. The next day was totally dedicated to touring Mesa Verde National Park. What an incredible site! It is huge and holds magnificent views. The Pueblo Indians settled there and lived in the area for over 700 years. The ancient ruins of their cliff houses and other dwellings still exist. We took sooo many pictures that I had to create yet another album here! We decided to include a challenging hike into the cliff to see the petroglyphs. It was rocky and steep, climbing over and down rocks with open cliffs on one side. But.. it was so worth it to see the amazing drawings in the cliff wall. It was a full day even though we couldn’t do any up close tours (covid closed all the up close tours of the cliff dwellings) but we had great views of them from a distance. Day four was reserved for driving up to Williams Creek Campground and Lake. It was really the primary reason we chose Durango as a stop. Williams Creek was a childhood camping destination for me and my family! The drive up was quite a distance with most of it on dirt roads. I couldn’t wait to get up there and see it again. It had been some 50 years since my grandparents took me and the family there. We packed a picnic and explored the beautiful spots with bubbling creeks, crystal blue skies and a beautiful reservoir. Even though it has been so many years since I had been there, not much has changed! I did find it sad to see our absolutely favorite spot to camp by the river was no longer there. It looked as thought at some point the river had altered course and the spot had to be closed. Still it brought back many cherished memories of days gone by with family members who are no longer with us. We drove from Williams Creek to Pagosa Springs to check it out. It’s a cute town, but has grown way too much and like all the towns we have visited on this trip, has been ruined by outsiders fleeing their states to come and drive up prices everywhere out here. It is very sad to see! We made our umpteenth trip to Wally World for supplies (we never seem to be able to get everything we need in one trip). The next day began our 3 day trek toward home. We drove through Colorado to Utah and stopped for the night in Brigham City. We were suffering a bit from trailer fatigue so decided to hotel it for the night. On to Idaho and Oregon the next day with an overnight stop in Pendleton, also at a hotel. We looked forward to our big bed, long showers, and just being home finally but are sad it’s coming to an end. We have seen so much and enjoyed seeing so many friends and family. We are so very grateful to everyone who took time to spend with us. We love you all! This trip has been epic- 28 days, 8 states, 5,127 miles and full of love, hugs and countless laughs! We are truly blessed. Can’t wait for the next adventure!

No camp site here anymore!!!

Road Trip 2021 – Part 1

AWAY WE GO!!!

So here we are, both retired and living quietly in a world constrained by the COVID “plandemic” for close to a year and a half. We have our routine from day to day, get up, spend some time on the computer, go to the gym, back home, do stuff around the house, make dinner or maybe go out, watch some tube and bed, get up and do it all over again. Every once in awhile we head back to Snoqualmie for appointments and see old friends. Now and then we have family or friends up for a visit or we visit them. Then one day, we looked at each other and said, “Let’s go on a road trip!” Thus began the planning months in advance. We had to decide where we were going to go, the route, booking RV spots, telling people we might want to see that we were coming, etc. We decided that this would be a friends and family visit/sightseeing trip. Debbie did a great job scouting out RV places, carefully checking reviews to make sure we were staying in decent places and it was awesome the job she did. The drive began with the first stop in Newport, Oregon and then on to Eureka, California. These two days are just stop overs on our way to Monterey, California where we will stay for a couple of days. Newport Oregon is a lovely place on the Oregon Coast and we have been there several times, so no need to sight see this time. We stayed at a nice RV park that is just a short walk to the Rogue Ales brewery and restaurant. We had to wait forever to get a table, but it was worth the wait ( we were so hangry! ). We packed up fairly early and headed out for our next stop Eureka, California. The drive was beautiful, with so many beautiful beach views and driving through the Redwoods is spectacular. The RV Park in Eureka was a little sketchy, nice people and super nice RV’s here but there is some sketchy stuff going on here so everything is locked up tight for the night and we will head out as early as possible for Monterey!

We left Eureka as early as possible and headed out for Monterey. Actually we are staying in Moss Landing which was “supposed” to be in the heart of Monterey, well not quite but it’s just fine. We took Hwy 101 which took us on a beautiful route. Through many Redwood forests and small towns. We ended up driving through wine country. Debbie wanted to stop and wine taste at the many wineries, but we had to stay on schedule to try to beat traffic. Next trip we are stopping and drinking. We thought we were going to go through Oakland, but Waze ended up rerouting us through San Francisco instead which afforded some beautiful views of the city but some dicey traffic for me. The drive, while a little hairy, was so gorgeous and we ended up arriving on time at the RV Park. We set up and headed out for a beach walk, it was beautiful. The next we lazed a bit and then headed for the gym for a workout and then on to Carmel for lunch and some window shopping . We fell head over heals in love with it and if we ever win the lottery we’ll be moving there! One ridiculous thing we had to endure while walking about in Carmel was the stupid mandatory mask wearing while OUTSIDE!!! Signs were posted everywhere that if you failed to do so, you would be fined $100. There are more sheep living in the town than there are on Clint’s ranch! We made our way to the Mission Ranch to have a glass of wine with Clint Eastwood (he owns it), haha we were told we just missed him. The rest of the day we spent on the 17 mile drive through Pebble Beach back to Monterey and Cannery Row. Had a light bite then back to the RV Park for the night. Such a fun couple of days here and then we headed for Santa Barbara!


My Old Buddy Rob Miotti and son
Salt

We really enjoyed our stay in Monterey and headed out around noon thinking we could avoid the commute traffic in the Santa Barbara area, we did hit some traffic but not as awful as we anticipated. Our drive was really nice with lots of beautiful scenery. Our route was down 101 which took us through lots of agricultural lands and by San Louis Obispo, Pismo Beach, Buellton which claims to be the home of split pea soup! Who knew!! We arrived at Ocean Mesa RV Resort (highly recommend this RV Park) in the early afternoon with sun and clear skies we quickly set up and headed out on a long walk in search of the laundry room and to explore the area. This park has a lot to offer including a pool and hot tub, very well stocked store, large sites and a restaurant within walking distance. We loved it. The next day we headed to Santa Barbara to visit the Santa Barbara Mission and later meet up with a good friend of Joe’s from many years ago. The Mission was beautiful and full of history. We took a lot of pictures at the mission and I created an album that you can go see here! Santa Barbara is a very nice city with a vibrant downtown full of shops and restaurants. Out of necessity with Covid everywhere has outside seating! Since it was Friday junior, it was pretty hoppin once it got dark. We were blessed to meet up with Rob Miotti and his son Robbie for the rest of the day. We stopped in to take a look at Salt Cave(a salt spa) and then in to Joe’s Cafe for a drink and light bite. We walked all over the downtown area and ended up at the best Mexican restaurant right across from the beach for dinner. Thank you Rob and Robbie for driving up to spend the day and evening with us! We really appreciate it and loved seeing you. After that adventure we departed for Newport Beach, California where we stayed at Newport Dunes Resort spend a few days visiting friends! So excited to see everyone ♥️


We left Santa Barbara around noon and headed down 101. The drive was mostly good with so many beautiful beach views. There are so many RV’s just parallel parked along the beach frontage roads, camping and surfing! It was incredible how many we saw! As we neared the LA area the traffic got thicker and much more crazy the closer we got. Thankfully I know the area from living in So Cal for many years in the 80’s. It’s unbelievable how many lanes the freeway’s have! Maybe almost as many as the Texas freeways, but far more congested. We arrived at the RV resort and were really pleased with the amenities and location, right in the heart of Newport Beach. This made it much easier to connect up with friends. We had dinner at SOL Mexican Cocina with our good friends Jeff and Jamie Simon the first night, super yummy Mexican food! We will be spending time with them again in Arizona. The next day we met up with a group of friends at my favorite Long Beach breakfast place, Schooner or Later. Back in my salesman days, this was one of my first accounts and made many early morning calls there selling them supplies. Sadly, the owners Denise and Denny weren’t there for me to surprise them. It was so great to spend time catching up! We spent the rest of the day with our friends Debbie and Tom Neforos hanging out in Long Beach grabbing beers at Murphy’s and later dinner at Simmzy’s . Many many beers were drank over the years at Murphy’s and the place hasn’t changed one bit since I left. Second street in Long Beach is definitely the place to be if you are young and single! Lots of bars, shops and restaurants. Another day we met up for brunch at The Tavern House with Debbie and Tom; and Maria and Jan; where spent time visiting and sadly said our goodbyes to our friends. We so much appreciated spending time with them and love them all dearly. We toured around Huntington Beach, Seal Beach and Long Beach for the rest of the day. We drove to many of my old haunts and a few old places where I used to live and did a lot of reminiscing and showing Debbie lots of memorable places. We were then on to our next destination to Fort Mohave, AZ to spend a few days with Jeff and Jamie! Stay tuned for the update coming in part two!

Road Trip 2014 – Part II

Yellowstone……Yellowstone……….Yellowstone! Until you have been, you just can’t realize how beautiful this country we live in is, or how beautiful this planet is! The WOW factor was really big here! The five nights we spent weren’t nearly enough to see everything it had to offer! We rolled into camp at the Grant Village Campground. It is accessed from the south entrance of the park! It is a very nice campground with plenty of amenities: store, gas, propane, laundry, and showers. our site was situated right on the shore of the West Thumb of Yellowstone Lake! Each morning you could hear elk bugling and some nights coyotes and wolves were heard in the distance. It was here that we also experienced some of the coldest nights of the trip, one night dropped to a bone chilling 17 degrees! The first thing we wanted to see was Old Faithful, of course, but there was a problem, the direct route was closed due to a bridge replacement. The only way to it was a circuitous 86 mile one way route. Now you might see that as a draw back, but it made us see allot of the park just getting there! We saw sights like the Hayden Valley which was usually full of bison, the Norris Geyser Basin, Artists Paintpots, Monument Geyser Basin, Firehole Falls, Biscuit Basin, just to name a few!

This fantastic scenic tour of the park ended at Old Faithful. We got there just in time to see it blow! Timing couldn’t have been better! We checked out the Old Faithful Inn was built in 1903-1904 with local logs and stone, the Inn is considered the largest log structure in the world. It almost burned down in one of the parks many wildfires! Especially one of the park’s largest fire in it’s recorded history, the fires of 1988. We saw the evidence of that massive all throughout the park in acres of dead trees, which was unfortunate, but it’s Nature!

We discovered a good way to explore the park was in sections. One section we spent one of our days in was the canyon section. I never realized there was a “Grand Canyon” of Yellowstone! My gawd it was beautiful!!!! The Yellowstone River runs through the canyon and provides visitors with multiple scenic falls to visit! We spent our time at the Brink of Lower Falls! We made hikes on both sides of the falls and saw them from different angles. One of the hikes was on Uncle Tom’s Trail. Prepare yourself if you ever take this hike because it is STEEP and you will get a helluva workout!

We heard talk from people we met looking for wildlife that a good place to go was the Lamar Valley. Apparently it is a hot spot for all kinds of creatures and there was a bison carcass that had been attracting wolves, coyotes, and even some bears! One morning we got up before daybreak and headed out! It was in the 20’s as we sat in the darkness waiting for sunrise. Thank you Richard for bringing the portable propane fire pit to keep us warm! So we hung out for awhile and saw plenty of bison and pronghorn but nothing else. The girls took off to make a coffee run and had the best of luck. They first got caught in a bison march right on the highway. They were walking right next to the truck. Then continuing back they saw a bear by the side of the road! The boys got ripped off!!!! We scouted a few other areas in search of four legged beasts, but came up empty. We explored more geothermal wonders on the way back to camp such as the Sulphur Caldron and the Mud Volcano. Both were amazing and extremely smelly. The stench of rotten eggs hung thick in the air. As hostile as an environment like this was, you could still notice animal tracks all over the place. Maybe they came to hang out for the heat on chilly nights!

Well we hated to leave, but it was time to head to our next destination, Cody. Yellowstone, we will return to continue to explore your beauty! We traveled through the Sylvan Pass and out the east entrance to the park and dropped into the Bighorn Basin of Wyoming and entered the wild west town of Cody! My first impression was that it reminded me of my hometown of Alamogordo, NM but not as dry. While we loved Jackson Hole, it seemed a bit touristy and Cody was a working town but nice on it’s own! It is named after William Frederick Cody, primarily known as Buffalo Bill, from William Cody’s part in the creation of the original town. Everywhere you look, you see the old west, cowboys, cattle ranching and by looking at the surrounding landscape, you can tell the weather is harsh! Our living spots for the next couple days were located at the Ponderosa Campground. It was near the center of town and everything was within walking distance for the most part. Just down the street was the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, a fascinating museum that contained four to five other museums. Days can be spent there in the Plains Indian museum, natural history museum, the Buffalo Bill Museum, gun museum, and much more. There just wasn’t enough time to see it all. We had to explore the rest of the town of course. We spent an evening walking downtown and checking out all the cool western shops and had drinks at the Irma Hotel,  built by William Cody in 1902 and named it for his daughter, Irma. We watched the fun, but slightly cheesy nightly gunfight in the street outside the hotel and then ambled over to the Silver Dollar Bar. Another half a day was spent looking over the Old Trail Town museum! ‘On this site in 1895, Western scout and showman William F. (“Buffalo Bill”) Cody laid out the original townsite of Cody, Wyoming, which was named in his honor. Today Old Trail Town preserves the lifestyle and history of the Frontier West through a rare collection of authentic structures and furnishings. From remote locations in Wyoming and Montana these historic buildings were carefully disassembled, moved and reassembled here at Old Trail Town by Western historian Bob Edgar and friends. Located here also are thousands of historic artifacts from the Old West and grave sites of several notable Western figures. Among the is the grave of mountain man John Johnson, who was portrayed by the actor Robert Redford in the 1972 motion picture “Jeremiah Johnson”. Here too are original cabins used by Old West outlaws Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and a Wyoming saloon frequented by Cassidy’s “Hole-in-the-Wall Gang”. Also on this site is the log cabin home of “Curley” a Crow Indian army scout who helped guide Lt Col. George A. Custer and the U.S. 7th Cavalry to the battle of the Little Big Horn in 1876. Old Trail Town exists today as a memorial to the uniquely American experience known throughout the world as “the Old West”.’ I LOVE THE OLD WEST!

Now for some reminiscing. There was a town just a few miles away called Lovell. When Debbie was a child and first came to America from Wales, she and her family landed here. She spent about five years here and went to primary school. Well being so close and she hadn’t been back in decades, we took a drive to see her old stomping grounds. We found the house she lived in, the school she went to, and drove by the Western Sugar Factory where her Dad worked. As for the town itself……well it is a little rough around the edges and time hasn’t been very kind to the place. She enjoyed going back as we did too. As for the uneventful drive back home that, my friends, was our vacation and it was one that will never be forgotten. Debbie has uploaded the photos to One Drive and here is the link to the album! Thanks for reading and can’t wait for the next adventure!

Road Trip 2014 – Part I

The month of September started off with one of the funniest vacations ever spent with great friends! Two weeks of road tripping through Northern Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming in a three truck/trailer convoy began at the North Bend Safeway parking lot on the morning of September 5th! Destinations included Jackson Hole, Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone National Park, and Cody, Wyoming! The first two days basically consisted of covering miles just making overnight stops. The first stop was the Wolf Creek Lodge Campground, located just east of beautiful Lake Coeur d’Alene in North Idaho. It was a beautiful setting and the drive along the lake was awesome. We never really knew how big and gorgeous Lake Coeur d’Alene is! We made note that it would be a future destination to hang out and explore! The second night was spent in Dillon, Montana at the Countryside RV Park. We had our first snafu as one of our trailer mates, Bob, noticed one of his trailer tires failing. Since we were kind of in the middle of nowhere, he decided to put on the spare and ride into our next destination to get it fixed.

The first place we stopped and actually spent some time in was in Jackson, Wy. We camped just north of the town at the Gros Ventre Campground. Our drive to there took us through northern Idaho which was full of scenery, small towns, and plenty of potato fields. We then headed over Teton Pass which was stunning and a bit scary as the highway grades were very steep at 10% grade. The truck brakes got a little heated and Debbie a lot scared! The campground was nice and set along the Gros Ventre River. We heard from other campers that if you were up early enough, moose would wander into the grounds and graze. We did just that and saw plenty of them!

We also saw lots of bison, pronghorn, and deer! It was too bad other humans we encountered were so aggressively trying to get so close to the wildlife to grab a camera shot, that they actually scared them off….idiots! We also encountered some wild weather while we were there as on two afternoons, lightning and thunder rolled right over the campground and did some serious booming!!! Once again Bob had trailer problems as his batteries failed. We went into Jackson and had his tired and batteries replaced. While we were there we toured the town. I loved it, even though it was a bit touristy! We shopped, took pictures, explored, and had to make a stop at the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar! Other days were spent driving around Grand Teton Park and hiking near Jenny Lake and going to the top of Signal Mountain Summit were we saw great views of the Jackson Valley! What a beautiful place this country is! Our final night, with a not to be missed recommendation from a fellow camper, we went to the Bar J Ranch Chuckwagon for a cowboy chuckwagon meal and show! It was wonderful! Great food and fun entertainment and stories of the wild west cowboy days and how they ate, and worked on the cattle drives, and songs they sung around the campfire!  If you are ever in Jackson Hole during the summer, head over to Wilson and check it out. Go hungry and ready to have a great time! With batteries replaced, new tire, and great memories, we were ready to head for our next destination…..Yellowstone, coming in part II!!!

Our Southwest Vacation

We have enjoyed a wonderful 10 day vacation to the Southwest and it was packed full of adventure, travel, sights, enjoyment, fulfillment, and reconnection. We started by flying to Las Vegas where we rented a car and headed out. Las Vegas was just a starting point and did not spend any time there. Renting a car in Vegas looks like it should be an easy organized task but it wasn’t for us. First you take a bus to the rental car building where all the rental companies are all together. I thought this was going to be a good idea! We went in and found our company Thrifty and saw the line of people waiting. It looked like the screening line into the gates at the airport. After that 45 minute wait, we were given our paper work and headed up to the garage where we stood in yet another line. What a mess! Don’t you just get your car assignment when you get your paper work and just head out to the space where the car is??? Well not here. We waited and waited because they didn’t have any cars. Finally they brought up a bunch and started the line. We were supposed to get an economy car like a Chevy Aleo or similar. When it was our turn, the guy asked us what we had and I couldn’t remember, so he just pointed to a 2008 red Mustang and asked if we wanted that! Well hell yes we did and were finally off in a nice ride!

Our first stop was Kanab, Utah! We were going to spend the first three days there visiting and volunteering at Best Friends Animal Society. Now if you have watched the TV show Dogtown on the National Geographic Channel, then you are familiar with Best Friends. What a wonderful place it is and it was better than either of ever expected. Best Friends is a no kill animal rescue/sanctuary that cares for around 2000 animals at any given time. They care for dogs, cats, pigs, birds, horses, and goats and employ 400 staff members and host many many volunteers. It is run mainly from the donations of the 250,000 members and it is run very well from what we saw. Our volunteering stint had us cleaning dog runs, walking dogs, feeding and socializing with pigs, and spending time with many cats! We loved it!! We even had two dogs come to our motel on two different nights for a doggie sleep over! They allowed to take two dogs with us for an overnight visit with us which helps the animal get used to being out with people and other dogs. It also helps them get used to the noises of everyday life like TV’s, cars, traffic, phones, kids, etc. Many of these animals are abandoned, abused, hoarded, and rescued from disasters. Some of their stories will just break your heart, but it was nice to see that they are now very well taken cared of and deserve the pampering they are getting at Best Friends. Most of these animals are being prepared for adoption, but if they are not or have issues that will not allow them to be adopted, then they will live out their lives at the sanctuary!!! If you are wondering….. we did not leave with any animal, but we will definitely be returning for more volunteer vacations!!!

Our next stop was at Bryce Canyon National Park on the way to Cedar City, UT. Now I have been to Bryce Canyon before, many years ago, but Deb had never seen it. It was a beautiful as I remembered and we did quite a hike while we were there. We then visited one of Debbie’s former co workers that has retired in Cedar City, Alan and Travis Hoppes. We stayed at their very lovely home and enjoyed a fantastic restaurant. Deb and I really liked Cedar City and it will be a future destination when we come back. It might not be a place to retire to when we are ready, but that’s way down the road. We then left and made a journey to Zion National Park which was different from Bryce Canyon but just as beautiful. There we did another hike and enjoyed the scenery. If you haven’t visited southern Utah, you must take a visit. The countryside and views will astound you. It is gorgeous down there!!!

We headed into Arizona for an overnight in Flagstaff. We drove right by the Grand Canyon, but it was dark and our itinerary didn’t allow for any time to be spent there so it will have to be on the list for our next visit. From Flagstaff we headed into western New Mexico. We made a stop in Mogollon which is an old mining town that no longer exists as a vital town although there are people that live there and we met a few. I don’t know how they do it as they are far off the beaten path. They probably like it that way that’s probably why they live there. It is kind of a spooky place and we were there in the day time. From there we stopped in Silver City, NM and visited my uncle Herbie and aunt Brenda. I hadn’t seen them in over 15 years! We had a nice visit and dinner with them. They are full time RV people and live in it! They had it parked at their son’s (Tyson) place. We went out and saw it and visited with him and his family. It had been even longer since I had seen him. It was great to see them all and know that they are doing good and are healthy!

The final leg of the journey took us to my home town of Alamogordo, NM. I was born and raised here and still have family left there. Allot of the family is there but reside in the town cemetery!! We visited my uncle Butch and aunt Sharon and cousin Lorie. My other cousin Jo Ann and friend Lisa drove over from Carlsbad and met us in Mayhill, NM for lunch and a great visit! We also drove by houses, schools, different points of meaning in my past and it was very poignant to revisit what was my childhood. Finishing off our vacation took us down to the hell hole of Van Horn, Tx. Sorry to any of you that have a connection to the town, but it really is a hell hole! Most of the town looks like it had died on the vine as many buildings that had housed former businesses were abandoned and crumbling. Even former gas stations were closed. Most of what was left were motels and there is a golf course nearby, but not much else. What took us down there was some land we hold that has been handed down to me from family. Since we were in the area and had one last day to kill, we decided to go down and have a look! We did learn allot about it and even found the location of where it was and even drove there to have a look. We weren’t able to get to the exact property as it was not accessible by car, as far as we could tell, but we did get a general idea where it was…… basically in the middle of nowhere! Our last stop was El Paso where we dropped off the car and flew home! It was a jam packed vacation and was allot of fun! You can check out our pictures by clicking here and soon I will have podcasts posted at my newest podcast Just Joe Podcast, so go and check both out!!! That’s it for now, finally!!!

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